Diagramming Arguments
Multistep Arguments

4. Multistep Arguments

In everyday thinking, as well as in science and other academic subjects, we often find chains of inferences: A premise gives us evidence for a certain conclusion, which in turn supports a further conclusion, and so on.

Or conversely, we look for a premise to back up our position, and then look for a further premise to back up the first premise, and so on.

Example:

If someone opposes gun control on the grounds that it violates the right of self-defense, we might ask: Why assume that people have such a right? The person might answer: Because people have a right to life, and therefore, have a right to defend themselves.

So we have four propositions to deal with:

1. People have a right to life.
2. People have a right to self-defense.
3. Gun control violates the right of self-defense.
4. The government should not restrict gun ownership.

This argument has two steps, and proposition 2 serves both as the conclusion of the first step and as a premise of the second.

An argument can have any number of premises, any number of steps.


Single Premise | Several Premises |
Several Conclusions | Multistep Arguments

Diagramming Arguments

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